Sunday, March 27, 2011

Hold On

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم

Source: The Hope Movement (Also known as the most epic Christian graphics site ever)

So I clicked onto Tumblr this afternoon, and this was at the top of my feed. Isn't it beautiful? This saying sums up everything that's been going on my life this year, hands down. There have been multiple times just in these few months where I've asked God, "Okay, where are you? Because this is going on, and this is going on, and you're asking me to do this, and I don't get it."

God's response? "Hold on. I know what I'm doing."

Yeah. I just wanted to share that with you. :D


Friday, March 25, 2011

My God is Bigger

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
God is amazing. Seriously.

So I had a bake sale to benefit my trip. Every site I looked at, everybody I talked to said that the average amount a person would make at a sale like that would be about $250. When I told them my goal, what I thought God was going to give me, was $500, they all acted askance, like "Okay, but really...I don't think so." In fact, I had kind of begun to think that I was aiming too high.

Don't ever tell God what he's supposed to do for you.

I went out to Walmart with four people baking for me, from 10am to 2 in the afternoon. And I made $530.

In another fundraiser I'm doing, I give people Pringles cans, and they fill them with change. The estimate is that you'll make about $30-$50 per can. Wednesday, I had a lady turn one in and it had about $100 in it.

And as I was writing this, I went to check the above estimate and discovered that I had just received a donation of $1,000 from someone I don't even recognize. I now only lack $1,400 for my base cost.

I serve a great and mighty God. He is bigger than what men say he can do for me. As I sit here, I'm practically in tears of ecstatic joy because of how awesome my God is.

He has a crazy love for me. I don't know why, but he does. That's something to rejoice about.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

This is God's Love

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم

This is God's love. It conquers the world.

That is the tail-end of a quote by Frederick Buechner, quoted in Crazy Love. What is God's love?

The love for equals is a human thing - of friend for friend, brother for brother. It is to love what is loving and lovely. The world smiles. The love for the less fortunate is a beautiful thing - the love for those who suffer, for those who are poor, the sick, the failures, the unlovely. This is compassion, and it touches the heart of the world. The love for the more fortunate is a rare thing - to love those who succeed where we fail, to rejoice without envy with those who rejoice, the love of the poor for the rich, of the black man for the white man. The world is always bewildered by its saints. And then there is the love for the enemy - love for the one who does not love you but mocks, threatens, and inflicts pain. The tortured's love for the torturer. This is God's love. It conquers the world.


Seriously, you have to read this book. Right now.


Crazy Love and Kittens

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
So I just acquired a copy of Francis Chan's Crazy Love. It is quite possibly one of the most amazing non-Bible books I've ever read. :D I'm only in chapter 4, but it's still good. I'll probably post a more extensive review after I actually finish.

In other news, I'm currently reading through the books of Moses. I just got done with Numbers and am now in Deuteronomy, eagerly looking forward to getting into Joshua. The law books are bo-ring. I mean, I know they're there for a purpose, and there's tons of history, but I really don't want to hear about the precise ways the Hebrews were supposed to kill baby sheep. Yeah. Not my favorite topic.

So this morning was quite interesting. One of our cats decided 3:30am was the perfect time to deliver a litter of eight kittens! Thankfully, due to the eager ministrations of my mom and little siblings, I got to stay in bed until 7. Haha. So now Chloe is sharing a bed with eight little hairless rats. At least, that's sort of what they look like. Homemaker insists she can tell what sex they are now, despite mom and I repeatedly telling her that she can't tell yet.

As I write this, Monkey, JeeBee, and Handyman keep coming into my room to see the kittens, since we brought Mama-cat in here for safe-keeping. Flipper and Sweet Cheeks are currently passed out on the bed and the couch, respectively, and Sweet Cheeks at least looks like she's going to be there for awhile.

Please be in prayer for one of the kittens. It's a runt, and isn't eating. We're trying to coax it to eat, but we're not getting much cooperation from it or Mama-Cat, so please pray that it'll figure it out and that its siblings will share.

Also, to end on a high note, it was Handyman's birthday on Tuesday. He's now ten years old!


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Christians and the Law

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
So I've been seeing quite a bit about this lately. I don't know if it's because of a blog I stumbled across (which is more likely, because it's what provoked this thought in the first place), or a Facebook friend I added, but there is a section of Christians that seem to think part of our lives should be the Old Testament Law - in other words, the Levitical law that was handed down to Moses as a guide for the Hebrew people.

Now, I understand the desire to do something great for God, I really do. The problem is that I don't think we see God calling gentile Christians to follow the Law anywhere in the Bible. Hebrew Christians may be another deal - you'll have to talk to a more knowledgeable authority on that one - but nowhere do we see Jesus or his disciples telling gentile Christians they are supposed to follow the Law.

There was much dispute about this issue even in the early church. In Acts 15, we find the church leaders in an uproar about whether or not gentiles, as Christians, are supposed to follow the law. Remember that, just a few chapters earlier, these same people were getting angry with Peter because he went and witnessed to the uncircumcised heathen. Of course, then Peter had to explain about how God had basically slapped him upside the head and told him what was going to happen: that what God had called clean (the gentiles) could not be called unclean (by Peter). Fast forward. Paul and Barnabas are having some troubles with these same men, the ones from Judea, who are still stubbornly holding on to that circumcision issue. There's this debate going on about it, and they all come together for the express purpose of further debate, and deciding what the answer is.

Peter pretty much sums it up:
And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare then witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and [the gentiles], purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved, even as they.
He looks around at all his friends and basically says- "Okay, what are we doing here? Didn't Jesus come to give us free salvation, by grace alone? So why are we trying to shackle these baby Christians with all the weight of four huge books that were written to Moses? Aren't they saved by grace?"

Now to those who say- "Then what is the point of the Levitical Law? Was it just some mean joke God was playing on his people?" Not quite. In Romans 3 and 7, Paul explains the purpose of the Law.

Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:19-20

What shall we say then? Is the law sin? God forbid. Nay, I had not known sin, but by the law: for I had not known lust, except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet. But sin, taking occasion by the commandment, wrought in me all manner of concupiscence. For without the law sin was dead.
Romans 7:7-8

This, then, is the purpose of the law: to be a schoolmaster and show us our sin. The ten commandments tell us that lying, stealing, adultery (of the heart and the body), covetousness, and disobedience are wrong. Without them, we would not know that God disliked those things, that we are accountable to a mighty God.

Let's get some history of the Law real quick, just to know where this "schoolmaster" comes from. Much of what we call the law were specialized instructions - how to build the tabernacle, how the priests were to behave, etc. etc. Circumcision was reaffirmed as a sign of commitment to God from the Hebrews. There are over 600 items on the list in all - 350 things not to be done or partaken of, and 250 things they were required to do. When first given this law, the Jews emphatically declared their resolve to keep this law. Of course, reading the history that makes up much of the old testament, we see how well that worked out: failure after failure is recorded. Even the priests, the most important part of the Levitical law command chain, were unable to keep the law. There was no salvation to be won through the law, no goodie points to be had. It was simply impossible.

This was, of course, the point, as revealed in Romans. The law is a tool to be used to highlight how depraved mankind is, how they cannot make it on their own. The repeated failure by the Hebrew people was all to prepare them for the Messiah who would come and rescue them from that up-and-down cycle. In Hebrews 8, the author writes:

For if that first covenant [the law] had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second. For finding fault with them, he saith, Behold, the days come, saith the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah: Not according to the covenant that I made with their fathers in the day when I took them by the hand to lead them out of the Land of Egypt; because they continued not in my covenant, and I regarded them not, saith the Lord.

He goes on to talk to his Jewish readers about how the laws "would be written on their hearts," and how God would forgive their iniquities (that was, of course, a quotation by the author from Jeremiah 31). So even to the Jewish people, God made the promise that he would eventually remove from them the old covenant: that is, the entirety of the law.

Some people will take the part where he talks about the law being written on their hearts and say- "You see? There we go. The Levitical law is written on our hearts, sort of like a conscience, and we're supposed to follow it." If that's so, then each one of us should feel the pricking of our conscience, that little voice of the Holy Spirit, whenever we eat bacon or wear nylon. But none (or very few) of us do, unless we're constantly thinking about how we should feel bad about those things. So what then is this law? I'm not sure. I haven't finished studying it out yet. I may have to come back in a few weeks and say "Oops, I was wrong. I'm going to give up pork and my Saturday shopping," but we'll see. ;)

The point of all this is, I suppose, that we don't have to follow the law because we are under grace. Christ fulfilled the qualifications of the law. He satisfied the justice of God. You see this all throughout the Gospels, in the epistles of the New Testament. We are no longer under the law, we are under grace. The law of the Spirit of life has made us free from the law of sin and death. The law is an all-or-nothing proposition. You can't pick and choose which qualifications you want- "Oh, I'm going to go to church on Saturday and abstain from pork, but not stone my child who rebels, or a woman I suspect of being a witch, and I'm going to let my heater come on on Saturday, because I don't like getting frozen."

Either you follow the law, or you do not. Either you try to be justified under it, or you do not.

I'm glad I'm free from that. I'm glad that Christ so loved me that he was willing to come and die for me, to bring me a new covenant. He died for me! The Lord of the Universe gave his perfect, sinless life for me! Why do I need to follow the law, when I am freed and perfected in him?

Do I still sin? Of course. But I can rest and have peace knowing that I'm not under the law, that I don't have to follow an endless set of qualifications to win brownie points, or whatever it is we're supposed to do by following the law. I am free, thanks to Christ. Are you?

To read more about this subject, I'd suggest procuring a copy of Andrew Farley's "The Naked Gospel." It's an absolutely amazing book. It will change your life. For real.


Friday, March 11, 2011


سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
It makes me sad that the horror in Japan has come down to a debate between atheists and Christians. And that's what it's become in some places - I've seen it on Facebook, and YouTube, and now on Blogger. There's a time and a place for such discussions, and I don't think it's when hundreds of people have died.

No, God didn't "cause" the tsunami. Nor did he necessarily just "let it happen." He's put in place certain natural laws and, unfortunately, sometimes those natural laws - especially the presence of multiple oceanic plates situated just under a string of ocean islands - cause earthquakes and tsunamis and hurricanes and tornadoes. It's the way of nature. Get used to it.

Now that I've dealt with the debate surrounding that issue in as short a time as I'm willing to give it...

My heart goes out to all those people who have lost family members. Whether those family members have died or are missing or whatever, I'm praying for their safety in the coming days, and that the world will be able to band together and send some sort of support to Japan. In the meantime, Japan isn't the only country affected. From what I understand, Hawaii, the Philippines, and the western coast of the US have also been hit. I have some friends who live on the western coast, and I sincerely hope they're alright, because I'd be sad if they weren't.

Anyway. Please be in prayer for the people of Japan and the other places affected in the coming days. :)))


Analyzing a Theme

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
Occasionally, in the places of my mind where I process my story-stuff, I start musing over questions. Questions like- "What do I want my book to say at the heart of it?"

Needless to say, I don't ever necessarily have a point to what I write. My stories are just that - stories that are probably pointless and largely full of fluff and sometimes pointless drama that even I don't understand, and wish would stop (darn you, Tony and Enna!). But I suppose every book should have some core meaning, some theme that wraps it up.

So I was thinking about mine today.

Valiant's was pretty simple. Kind of. It's somewhere between love conquers all and your family isn't necessarily the people you were born to. There might also be something in there about how Centaurs are not always evil, or even people on the "wrong" side can be good, but we won't go into that.

Ravaged Time was a bit tougher. It doesn't end on a high note, where every conflict is perfectly resolved. I must admit that **spoiler** my main characters have to split up. Yes. They can't live together, because of a situation that is actually eerily like the end of His Dark Materials, now that I think about it. Oops. That was not intentional. But if I had to choose what the 'theme' was, I'd probably have to say that it was freedom is always worth fighting for. Throughout the whole book, freedom is found. Tony finds freedom from his own attitude. Enna finds freedom from the constraints of Alliance society. Terria and Dravin are fighting for political freedom. And yeah, they could have laid down and become good little Alliance citizens again, but they didn't.

I haven't yet discovered Dark Dawn's theme, or the theme for Stellae. I suppose you'll just have to wait for me to launch into editing to discover those.

What are the core themes of your stories?


Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Chat With Maerwen

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
So...this was a thing on Facebook that several other writers were doing. You're supposed to write a short blurb with your favorite character from your stories, as if they were real. This was what I wrote. It isn't as good as Mirriam's, but I think it's pretty good.
I chose Maerwen because...I like Maerwen. She isn't my favorite character I've ever written, but she was the first one that came to mind, so...yeah. Enjoy. :D

I bite my lip and try to not to be completely frustrated that my characters aren't cooperating. Some people think that your characters don't have a mind of their own. I beg to differ. They're the most ridiculously independent things to ever be invented. I tap my pen against the paper, alternately glancing from it to the computer screen. Yes, I have them both open. It's how I roll.

"Just...write already." the voice of Maerwen comes from behind me. She's standing next to my bed, one hand gently laid on it, looking perfect and beautiful, and...yeah.

"Everything's written."

"Get editing then." she suggests with the cheery ease of somebody who doesn't have to do it - she just has to sit there and watch.

"You won't like it when I do."

Her smile freezes. "And why is that?"

I shrug. "Just because. You never know what I might do."

She comes closer, to lean over my chair and see what I have written. "Excellent. Throw Ionwe to Durion, I don't care."

"If Ionwe goes down, you're going with him." I say.

"No I won't." she insists. "He'll take Anarisia. He likes her better, anyway."

"Of course he does. They're falling in love."

"Pretty silly of them, if you ask me."

"Love isn't silly Maerwen."

"Sure it is. Just see if I ever fall in love."

A grin comes onto my face. She sees it. "What is that for? Stop it. I don't like it. What are you thinking?"

My hands go to my keyboard. "Watch and learn, Madame Pixie."
Haha. I don't think Maerwen is speaking to me anymore. Ah well.


"His Dark Materials" Review

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم

So out of inordinate and perhaps insufferable curiosity I read the "His Dark Materials" trilogy, by Philip Pullman.

And...despite its admittedly anti-Christian message, I actually enjoyed it. I know, I know. I'm a bad person. But it is ridiculously hard to find good, solid, well-written YA fantasy. Do you know how difficult that is? The fantasy genre came to a sudden screeching halt after Lord of the Rings. LOTR was written, and people decided they shouldn't come up with anything new. So Philip Pullman's trilogy at least has a new storyline.

So, for those of you who know nothing about His Dark Materials, let me tell you the bare-bones of the plot: Lyra is a twelve year old girl living in Oxford, England - a strange sort of England, where people have dæmons, creatures that are literally the outward expression of their inner souls. These dæmons take the form of animals, and are usually the opposite sex to their human. Anyway. Lyra discovers a secret about kidnappers called "Gobblers." They're kidnapping children and trying to sever their dæmons, hence making them impervious to Dust, or Shadows, or sraf, or Original Sin. Yeah. There's a lot more to it than that, but it could take a whole book to tell you. And it did.

In The Subtle Knife, we meet Will, the wielder of a knife that can cut portals between worlds - Lyra's world, his world, another world, all the worlds. Later we discover the knife has to be destroyed or bad things will happen. In The Amber Spyglass, the real bad guy dies, and Will and Lyra fall in love. Then have to split up, because their dæmons can't survive outside their own world for very long. Remind my little sister never to read these. She'd hate them for the ending only.

Anywho. Yes, these books are very anti-Christian. God ('the Authority') is portrayed as a bad guy - in fact, in Philip Pullman's universe(s), he's not a God at all, he's simply an angel who fooled every one else. But paradoxically, the Authority isn't even the real bad guy. In The Amber Spyglass, he's portrayed as a decrepit old man who can't hardly move, and dissolves the moment he steps out onto the ground. The real bad guy in His Dark Materials is Megatron/Enoch/the High Regent, a despot who wants to control all the worlds and kill any mortal who stands in his way. He's killed in The Amber Spyglass. In most places, however, it almost seems more anti-organized religion. Anti-Catholic Church in many places, actually. At the end, God is "dead," and Lyra and Will free all the dead people from the netherworld that was their home, and they become part of everything.

Word of warning, however - if you're not secure in your faith, if you're not ready to be challenged, don't read it. Because that's what these books will do, and I think that's what they're intended to do: completely rock your world and make you doubt. That's okay. It challenges us (or at least, it did me) to seriously evaluate "Why do I believe what I believe?" I think that's a good thing.

So, to sum up:

The pros are
  1. Original storyline
  2. Superb storytelling and detail
  3. Dynamic characters
The cons are
  1. Anti-God, more than anything
  2. Rather confusing in places, it must be admitted
Yeah. So.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Random Happenings

سلام لكم في هذا اليوم
So in good news: I've gotten roughly $170 for my trip this past week! Hoping to do better this week, since my bake sale is this weekend. Pray that I'll get enough donations in goodies to make the sale awesome.

Anyway. This afternoon, about fifteen minutes before I had to be at Good News Club, I stepped on a piece of glass and cut my foot pretty good. It hurt like crazy, let me tell you. So now I have bandaids on the bottom of my foot...which is awesome, as always. [/sarcasm]

Good News Club was crazy today - the kids wouldn't sit still for love 'nor candy. v.v

Anyway. That has been my life. OH! One thing I forgot.

There's this man in our church, a really awesome Christian. This past week, he was robbed and beat up pretty bad. A car ran over his ankle, and he has some internal bleeding and stuff. He's pretty bad off: they're keeping him in a coma for the moment, so that he won't mess up what they're doing to try to fix him. Please be in prayer for both his healing, and for his family - he has a son and step-son, a wife, and their baby. So yeah. Thanks. :))

I'm probably going to bring you all something deep and profound on Wednesday or something, probably concerning the spiritual applications of brownies. So stay tuned.


Sunday, March 6, 2011


سلام لكم في هذا اليوم

We went and saw Tangled last night.

And it was amazing.

I loved it very much.

Rapunzel is my new favorite Disney princess.


For those of you have not yet been exposed to the awesomeness that is Tangled, it's basically the story of Rapunzel. **Possible spoiler alert**

Rapunzel's mother, due to a sickness, was forced to drink the juice of a magical flower that healed her and made Rapunzel have glowing hair that can heal people.

Yeah. So basically then there's this creepy old lady who used the flower to stay young. She discovers that Rapunzel has in essence become the flower, and she steals her away to use her, all the while telling her that the world outside is just as evil as she really is...even though Rapunzel doesn't know that.

Enter Flynn Rider, who is a wanted thief because he (heh, heh) stole the lost princess' crown. Rapunzel gets him to take her to see the lanterns that are set loose to honor the princess, and hilarity ensues. Along the way, they fall in love, Mother Gothel nearly kills the both of them, Flynn becomes my favorite Disney prince, and Tangled becomes my new favorite movie.

Yeah. This is the most amazing movie of all time, and you should watch it, if only because Flynn is awesome, and Rapunzel is pretty.

The best part of this movie was that it was clean. There was no crude humor, and nothing but a kiss between Rapunzel and Flynn.

All in all, it was an excellent movie. Better than Princess and the Frog, at least. Go see it. Naow. I should hopefully be going to see Narnia this week, too! Yay!!